David Cameron claims Islamist groups are trying to undermine the Government's anti-terror strategy

As part of a think tank report into Prevent, the former Prime Minister accused people criticising it as fuelling terrorism

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Former Prime Minister David Cameron has hit out at Islamist critics of the government's terror plan.

Think Tank the Policy Exchange has called for more support for the Prevent plan, after the Home Secretary Priti Patel hinted changes would be made following the murder of MP David Amess.

The report claims there is an "Islamophobic social engineering project" by groups arguing they are victims of prevent.

He wrote: "In a country where everyone feels at home, there is no place for extremism. It sows division and hatred and threatens our very way of life.

"I don't just mean violent extremism. No one becomes a terrorist from a standing start. The warped narratives are what draw people in and pave the way for many to support or even commit terrible acts."

Former Prime Minister David Cameron
Former Prime Minister David Cameron

He added: "I believe those who refuse to challenge the falsehood surrounding Prevent are guilty of a form of 'passive tolerance', whereby society fails to interfere in minority communities for fear of appearing racist.

"So just as we need to counter the Islamist extremist narrative, we need to counter the anti-Prevent narrative... to show that delegitimising counter-terrorism is, in essence, enabling terrorism."

The Home Secretary has hinted at reforms to the Prevent programme after the homegrown terrorist who murdered Sir David Amess was sentenced to die in jail.

Priti Patel, who was a close friend of the veteran MP, said “there are things that need to change” amid a litany of concerns about how the government’s anti-terror scheme is working since it emerged several recent attackers were previously referred to the deradicalisation strategy.

Ali Harbi Ali was handed a whole-life tariff last week, meaning he will most probably die behind bars after he carried out his killing in a warped retaliation against politicians who voted to bomb Syria.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Ali Harbi Ali in the dock at the Old Bailey in London
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Ali Harbi Ali in the dock at the Old Bailey in London

An unrepentant Ali told his trial he had no regrets about the murder, defending his actions by saying Sir David deserved to die because he had voted in Parliament for air strikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015.

The court heard the so-called “lone wolf” became known to authorities around this time as his school performance plummeted and he was referred to Prevent, but continued plotting in secret.

Prior involvement with Prevent features in other recent cases, including that of Reading terror attacker Khairi Saadallah who murdered three men in a park and Sudesh Amman, responsible for stabbings in Streatham, both in 2020, as well as the 2017 Parsons Green Tube train attacker Iraqi asylum seeker Ahmed Hassan, among others.

William Shawcross, a former chairman of the Charity Commission, is leading a long-awaited independent review of Prevent.

While anticipated to be published soon, potentially even in the coming months, it is understood Home Office officials and ministers are yet to see the findings.

Speaking to reporters, Ms Patel said: “This Prevent review is really important to me.

“I can’t prejudge a review but it’s quite clear, and I say this from my own observations and what I see, that there are things that need to change.”

When asked whether she was frustrated about how long it is taking, she said she was “not going to get into that because the review needs to come to me first and foremost” but added: “But clearly from the observations that I’ve seen – and there have been quite a few now and instances as well – it’s right that a) we have this review but there will definitely be things that we need to change.”